Heavy rain was expected to produce more flooding across already-saturated eastern Kentucky on Monday, days after flash floods in the area killed at least 28 people and left dozens missing.
An onslaught of rainfall since last week has soaked the soil and made it unable to absorb more. The flooding has caused mudslides, and topped up streams, creeks and rivers to overflowing. Bridges have collapsed, isolating communities, and houses have been torn from their foundations. The death toll is expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations resume on Monday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Sunday morning that 37 people were missing.
Forecasters said a cold front would drift over the eastern part of the state, generating more showers that could last into Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Jackson, Ky., said the effects of the rainfall could be “severe” north of Interstate 64, which passes through northern Kentucky and the city of Lexington.
In some of Kentucky’s eastern counties, rainfall of up to two inches per hour, at times, could cause flash flooding with runoff spilling out from overflowing waterways, until about noon local time, the Weather Service said.
Since last week, the worst of the devastation has been concentrated in roughly a half-dozen counties in the Appalachian region in Kentucky’s southeast. Those communities have already been upended with severe damage to homes and families. At least 14 people died in Knott County. Clay, Perry and Letcher Counties are struggling, officials said. In some areas, such as Breathitt County, communities were trying to recover from previous floods.
“The ground is saturated,” Brendon D. Miller, the Breathitt County attorney, said on the county’s emergency management Facebook page late on Sunday. “It can’t take much rain. But let’s hope and pray that we get a reprieve and not much further rain that will affect us.”
“It has been a harrowing week,” since Wednesday afternoon, he added.
The same weather system that has inundated parts of eastern Kentucky with up to 12 inches of rain in the past week has also stretched into parts of Tennessee, Sam Shamburger, a Weather Service meteorologist, said.
“There have been waves of rain moving across both states,” he said. “Unfortunately Kentucky has got the brunt of the heavy rain and seen all the really bad flooding.”
But the storms are expected to taper, he said.
Around the Nashville area in northern Tennessee, as much as three inches of rain has fallen in the past week or so, with up to six inches in the east. “But that is still a lot less than the extreme amounts that eastern Kentucky has seen,” Mr. Shamburger said. “Some areas could pick up another inch or more, but like Kentucky, it could dry out from Tuesday.”
In West Virginia, strong to severe thunderstorms and damaging winds were expected in the middle Ohio Valley, which follows the Ohio River along the state’s northwest border, from Monday afternoon and possibly into Tuesday morning, the Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va., said.
In Missouri, where flash flooding last week hit the St. Louis area, breaking a century-old rainfall record, the worst appeared to be over. Scattered storms in eastern Missouri and Southwest Illinois could drop less than half an inch of rain over the next 24 hours, Mark Britt, a Weather Service meteorologist, said.